Kylie Addison Sabra
October 29, 2019
Ransomware, Ransom to his friends, sits back in his chair and plants his feet on his desk. With the satisfied sigh one enjoys when they are about to reap the rewards for a job well done, he picks up his phone. “Good morning, John,” he says with the warmth of an old friend. “I know it’s early.” He laughs. “I bet you’re just starting on that cuppa, right?”
John eyes the steaming cup of coffee resting in his hand with a quirked brow. He plays along, not wanting to admit that he doesn’t recognize the voice of someone who appears to know him well. “Good morning,” he says hesitantly, his voice lilting up as if it were more question than greeting.
“Got the Wall Street Journal out ready to start another profitable day, you lucky dog you.”
John nervously lays aside the Journal and sits up straight. Before he can respond . . .
“Haven’t even had a chance to turn on your computer yet.”
The warmth leaks out of Ransom’s voice as a chill seeps into John’s bones. John clicks the power button on his laptop and logs in. He exhales when his desktop opens up and a sense of the ridiculous washes over him as everything seems to be working normally.
He swallows hard and clicks the R&D folder that contains the company’s latest projects; projects John believed would move him to the top of the food chain. And then, he saw it all spin away from his control.
Ransom chuckles. “Are you still with me, John? Oh, and I’ll take $78 thousand–in bitcoin if you please. ” To emphasize just how much control Ransom has over his computer another picture replaces the ransomware screen.
Ransomware–A Targeted Attack
Ransom knows a great deal about John. He knows he likes his morning coffee and starts his day with the Wall Street Journal. Ransom has put in some serious time studying the CEO’s habits. He’s watched John’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media posts, simply by following or asking to be added as a friend. He is also adept at profiting from other data breaches–the ones that release millions of customers’ data and make flashy headlines.
He knows that Brianne is John’s assistant, that she has a sweet new puppy and loves massive historical novels. Yes. He’s been watching her too. He knows enough to send a very convincing email to Brianne with the link that allowed him to breach the walls that John thought he had so carefully built around his organization.
Email phishing is the predominant way cyber criminals find their way into your organization and any one of your employees, or even you could unwittingly open the door and usher him in to take over your data.
SMBs Feel the Pain
Attacks on big business are certainly newsworthy, but may lead to a false sense of security on the part of SMBs (small- to medium-sized business). SMBs are an attractive target; often requiring less effort on the part of the attacker. Beazley, specialist insurers with over 30 years experience, reports that 71% of the ransomware claims they handle are aimed at SMBs.1
It’s not like Ransom is overly concerned with providing good after-payment customer service.
As of April of this year, the average ransom demand for SMBs was $2,000. Compared to the potential loss, it can seem easier to just pay it. But ransomware tends to target businesses multiple times and several $2,000 attacks in a single year can be a hardship for most SMBs.3 Besides, payment offers no guarantees that you will gain access to your data. It’s not like Ransom is overly concerned with providing good after-payment customer service.
Could the Ransomware Attack Have Been Avoided?
There are many actions that can slow down Ransom, and no single one is a magic pill. These attacks call for a multi-faceted approach.
There is no 100% secure solution. The above steps working together provide as secure an environment as you can hope to achieve. The most critical of these, though, is the backup and disaster recovery program.2 It is one thing to have a backup procedure in place, but do you absolutely know it is working? Always? Do you know how to restore it? A properly managed disaster recovery program will have you back up and running with minimal loss of uptime.
- Beazley.com. (2019). Beazley breach insights – October 2018. [online] Available at: https://www.beazley.com/news/2018/beazley_breach_insights_october_2018.html [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019] .
- Federal Trade Commission. (2019). Defend Against Ransomware. [online] Available at: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/video/defend-against-ransomware [Accessed 3 Nov. 2016].
- Roussey, B. (2019). These 7 ransomware threats have SMBs in their gunsights. [online] TechGenix. Available at: http://techgenix.com/ransomware-threats/ [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].